Stocks rise on open as investors turn focus to life after the pandemic

U.S. stocks opened higher as investors speculated when economies will begin to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The dollar trimmed a gain and Treasuries yield rose.

The benchmark S&P rose as much as 1.4 per cent, a day after surrendering its biggest gain since Oct 17, 2008.

Overnight, the White House was said to be developing plans to get the U.S. economy back in action.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell after euro-area finance chiefs failed to agree on a $540 billion economic package to respond to the pandemic.

“Partial reopenings will be undoubtedly be the unifying theme of the headlines on this topic over the course of the next several sessions and our expectation is that it will be a net positive for risk assets,” BMO Capital Markets strategist Ian Lyngen wrote in a note.

Oil rose as investors weighed whether output cuts being discussed by the world’s top producers will be enough to offset the demand destruction wrought by the coronavirus.

Italian bonds took a hit and the euro headed for its seventh drop in eight days against the dollar as the officials struggled to reconcile visions for how to recover from the virus. Core debt in the region reversed gains. France’s first-quarter output shrank the most since World War II, the latest indicator of the severity of the shock to the world’s biggest trading region. Spain confirmed having Europe’s most-extensive outbreak of the disease, with deaths and infections rising the most in four days.

While the S&P 500 briefly reached a more-than 20 per cent gain from its March low this week, investors remain reluctant to take big risks while forecasts are for the virus to grow rapidly in some of the biggest economies — the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and the U.K. They’re also concerned that fiscal stimulus measures will be too late or not enough to counter the effects of the pandemic as efforts to formulate a European response drag on.

“As the quarter progresses, investors start to understand that everything we’re seeing is in the form of assistance and aid to just tide the economy over,” Bob Michele, global chief investment officer at JPMorgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg TV. “It’s not stimulus that gets the economy going at a much higher rate than where it is.”

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar slipped after S&P Global Ratings cut the country’s credit-rating outlook to negative from stable. The kiwi edged lower after New Zealand’s central bank said it is open to increasing the size and scope of its asset-purchase program.

Bloomberg.com

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